Question: This is your last chance to beat Ohio State, what does this game mean to you personally?
Steve Schilling: “It means a lot. Not just for me but the seniors for the last six years that didn’t get a chance going out and beating them. There has been a couple classes now that have gone through here without a chance to beat them. It means a lot for me and this team and also those guys that I have played with the last few years.”
Question: What do you think of your record against Ohio State means to a legacy for someone at Michigan?
Steve Schilling: “It means big obviously. It’s the big rivalry at the end of the year. The last few years have been a little different, a different Michigan than I guess the previous years and so we have been struggling to get wins, got back to a bowl this year. Just getting a win our last year would be huge in the ending of this year.”
Question: Where were you or how old were you the last time Michigan beat Ohio State in 2003?
Steve Schilling: “I was a sophomore in high school or something like that. Way out in Washington, I probably didn’t even watch the game or even know about it. It has been a while.”
Question: Can you talk about what has led to some of the turnovers?
Steve Schilling: “I don’t know. The ball has been on the ground and turned it over a few the last few weeks. It is something we stress. It is our job to kind of protect those guys. It is obviously something we don’t want to see and something that we cannot have if we’re going to win this Saturday.”
Question: Can you describe the intensity going down there?
Steve Schilling: “Down in Columbus, I do not really know. I’ve never played there. I watched the last time, I was injured. It definitely seemed like an intense crowd and they are yelling at you. I could hear more of the yelling and stuff when I wasn’t playing because I was standing on the sideline the whole time. It seems like a fun place to play. I was jealous that I couldn’t be out there two years ago and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Question: When you were on the sideline, did you hear anything in particular that stood out and made you laugh?
Steve Schilling: “Nothing that I remember now. I’m sure I did, but you try to block that stuff out anyway, I don’t remember.”
Question: I’m sure you guys want to win this for yourselves, but is there any part of you that wants to say lets stop Ohio State from winning six consecutive Big Ten championships?
Steve Schilling: “Yeah. They’ve had some success obviously the last few years and they’ve been doing well. Yeah what did you say six consecutive Big Ten titles and if we could stop that streak too and help start a little streak of our own, maybe beating them or something. There is definitely a lot of perks to winning on Saturday.”
Question: What would it mean to the team this year if they could say they were the ones that ended the streak?
Steve Schilling: “I think it would be huge. In a way, it could rectify the four losses that we’ve had. Obviously, it doesn’t make up for them but in a way it could be a nice ending to the season to go on the road. We’ve had some success on the road so far this year and to go down there and steal a win from a top seven team or whatever they are now would be huge.”
Question: Do you feel like your playing for your head coach’s job on Saturday?
Steve Schilling: “No. I don’t think about that really. I think we’ve shown progression the last three years under Coach Rod. No I don’t think about that.”
Question: In all four of your losses, you guys were trailing by at least a touchdown going into the half, how important is it this week to be at least even with Ohio State?
Steve Schilling: “Yeah. Like you said in the four losses, the offense has kind of gotten off to somewhat of a slow start and you’re trying to play catch up and our offense starts on the running game, which is tough when you’re behind. If we can get off to a fast start and kind of build a lead and be able to control the clock that would be huge for us especially in Columbus.”
Question: What is different about this team that makes you feel like it is maybe more capable of beating Ohio State than the last few teams that you’ve been a part of?
Steve Schilling: “That’s a good question. I think we’ve shown during this season moments of…we’ve played good football at times. We’ve slipped up but we definitely think we have the capability of playing with anybody when we are playing at our best. We just got to put a complete game together.”
Question: Do you Denard Robinson should be the Big Ten player of the year?
Steve Schilling: “I don’t know. I don’t vote for that stuff and to be honest with you, I couldn’t tell you too many guys that are up for it. I can’t really make an opinion on that. He’s played well. He’s obviously set some records but our team struggled a little bit in Big Ten play, so we need to pick him and hopefully get a win this week.”
Question: On what’s different about playing Ohio State…
Steve Schilling: “It is just kind of a different intensity. It is kind of hard to speak about but everybody knows who you are playing and it is there in the back of your mind. It is a little different than playing anybody else. It is the end of the year and everybody is beat up, but you kind of put some Band-Aids on your wounds and get after it and leave it all out there this Saturday.”
Question: You guys played Adrian Clayborne, JJ Watts and Ryan Kerrigan; who is the best defensive line that you have faced?
Steve Schilling: “They all bring some different things to the table. Obviously, Kerrigan got after us pretty good two weeks ago. They are all great players. It is an advantage to play in the Big Ten, getting to go against guys like that every week, arguably the top four best defensive ends in the country play in our league. So it is exciting to go against guys like that.”
Question: It is an advantage?
Steve Schilling: “Advantage did I say that…I guess it is an advantage, it forces you to play at a high level when you are playing against those guys.”
Question: On Ohio State D-lineman Cameron Heyward…
Steve Schilling: “(Cameron) Heyward is a great player. Obviously, he has been playing since he was a freshman. He’s a big guy, but he can play on the end and inside. He’s real versatile strong and quick. He has the whole package and he’ll be a big time NFL prospect.”
Question: For a lot of fans of this rivalry both locally and nationally, Michigan-Ohio State has sort of fallen…it hasn’t been as big as it once was; what is it like for you guys at Schembechler Hall?
Steve Schilling: “It’s still huge for us. Obviously with the trouble that we’ve been going through the last few years has fallen and it is not really a rivalry when one team wins every year. We kind of got to get back in the win column in this rivalry and that will help get it more on the national stage.”
Question: Does Ohio State week feel different that it is Thanksgiving Week this year?
Steve Schilling: “Maybe a little. I didn’t really think about that. We haven’t had a week where we don’t really goes on with Thanksgiving on Thursday, so we’ll see. That will probably change the preparation a little bit, but haven’t really thought about that.”
Question: What kind of person is Denard Robinson?
Steve Schilling: “He’s a guy that is always smiling always happy no matter what is going on. He has always got a positive attitude. He can throw two interceptions on the last two drives, but he’s got a positive attitude wanting to come out there. It is infectious. He is always having fun playing football. You can tell he loves to play the game and it is exciting to be able to block for a guy like that.”
Question: He gets all the attention offensively is that fair?
Steve Schilling: “Sure. He’s the quarterback and he has been playing well for the most part all year. That’s how it works and we’re okay with that.”
Question: How old were you the last time Michigan beat Ohio State, which was 2003, do you remember that at all?
Ryan Van Bergen: “2003, naw I don’t remember that one. I would have been 14. At that time I was in eighth grade, I was probably busy chasing girls and playing basketball. I probably saw it on TV, but I just don’t…I don’t remember that. My oldest Michigan memory is Michigan versus Nebraska and the one image that got me to come to Michigan from when I was eight or nine years old was Charles Woodson with the rose in his mouth. That was my big seller.”
Question: How did you do chasing girls then?
Ryan Van Bergen: “I got really good at basketball (laughter).”
Question: Speaking of memories, can you ever recall a situation where Michigan State fans and players are rooting for Michigan to win a game like they are this week?
Ryan Van Bergen: “I know, it is grotesque. I’m from the west side of the state and my mom works for MSU extension office, 4-H stuff and she is always heckled. She’s always got her Michigan stuff on her desk and stuff and she has got pictures of me in my uniform and this week she says that she is already getting people coming in saying, I hope your son does well this week. I really hope they knock him off. At first, she was taking, oh they are being very nice and now she is realizing that they have their own agenda. “
Question: How important would it be to this year’s team to be able to say they stop the streak against Ohio State?
Ryan Van Bergen: “It would be very important. As a veteran, it is not my last year, but a lot of the guys in my class it is their last year. Some of the fourth year guys that did not redshirt. One of the big things for seniors is that you never want to leave this program without beating Ohio State. There has been some guys that have had to do that as of late. They stressed the importance to me after they left the program and came back and made contact with me that there is definitely an emptiness with what they feel like is their career at Michigan when they had not beat Ohio State and that is definitely a position I do not want to find myself in.”
Question: Do you think it is fair that a player’s legacy could be defined by how you did against one school?
Ryan Van Bergen: “No it is probably not fair but it is something that you learn to expect. When you come to Michigan you’d better know that if you do not perform against Ohio State you’re going to be looked down upon. If you haven't done your homework on that you shouldn’t have come here in the first place. I think a lot of guys look forward to that game. It could be a savior for you. If you have had some down plays or something like that or had a down year, if you come out against Ohio State and have your best game, a lot can be forgiven and a lot can be criticized. That’s what the game comes down to and that’s what you come here for. You come here to be put in that pressure situation because you’re able to succeed in those pressure situations. So I’m excited about it.”
Question: Just looking at what you said about come to Michigan you look at what you do against Ohio State. You look at what you do against Michigan State. You look at what you do against the top half of the Big Ten; Rich Rodriguez and this program has not had much success, do you feel that you are playing for your head coaches job this week?
Ryan Van Bergen: “Oh absolutely not. I think there is definitely criticism out there that might be unjustified in the fact that we’ve played with some of the talent in the Big Ten or whatever you want to say. If we wouldn’t have waited until the middle of the third quarter, beginning of the fourth quarter to start playing real football, we would have been right in that game. Same with Penn State and same with this Wisconsin game. Third quarter, we come out firing like our scholarships depend on it and for some reason we haven’t gotten that attitude to come out in the first play and it is something that is frustrating and is something that as a group we need to collectively fix that. If we can play like when we’re down 20 points for the whole game, we can execute like that, there is no reason that we couldn’t be contending for the Big Ten right now. Luckily, we get one more chance this weekend.”
Question: Do you have any idea why that is that you guys have to be….?
Ryan Van Bergen: “I wish I could tell you, I really do. I take it personally that it is something that I have not been able to get with my upperclassman, because I think it is upon us to develop that attitude and it is something that we need to really look into and motivate our guys swinging like we’re down 20 points and if this drive doesn’t go the way we need it to, we’re definitely going to be out of this game. That needs to the attitude from the first series to the last series and it is something that we need to focus on this week for sure.”
Question: With the struggles that you’ve had defensively, what gives you confidence that this could be the week you turn it around and come up with a big game?
Ryan Van Bergen: “If you look at the film, we did have some struggles, but most of it was schematic. They schemed us really well with…they had a play where they pulled the tackle and guard and the tight end blocks down, they scored two or three touchdowns on that one play. All of those were explosive plays. That’s not a good thing but at the same time we had guys putting their heads on the ball. The ball came out quite a bit, more often than you’ve seen in recent games. We had some positives from the game that we can pull and if we can adjust our scheme and be ready for Ohio State x’s and o’s wise, I definitely think we can play with them.”
Question: With realignment are you happy to have an opportunity to play them against next year and that tradition is going to continue?
Ryan Van Bergen: “Oh yeah. I think that would be devastating to the Big Ten and college football as a whole if we did not play Ohio State. Michigan plays Ohio State, it is just a fact. We’re going to play them the rest of college football and to have that opportunity to have that every year is another reason why you come here. I’m very excited about it. I would have been crushed if my fifth year, senior year I would not have been able to play Ohio State.”
Question: What kind of struggles does Terrelle Pyror and the offense present to you guys?
Ryan Van Bergen: “Just weapons. They have all kinds of weapons and guys that can make plays. Obviously, Terrelle Pryor has a cannon for an arm and is really fast. He’s a big guy. He’s very talented. He surrounded with a corp of receivers that are very sound in their fundamentals, (Dane) Sanzenbacher is very good and (DeVier) Posey is pretty good. They got good running backs that can interchange. They are a very dangerous and explosive offense, but I wouldn’t want it any other way for our last game before a bowl game to test this defense, strap up and see what we can do against these guys.”
Question: You mentioned Woodson before. How much closer do you feel you are to walking around with that rose clenched in your teeth from when you got here?
Ryan Van Bergen: “It is not something that I really think. I never really put myself in that position. I think that there has been some progress and like I said there is still a lot of criticism about our coach, our team and our program and we’re not far enough along yet, but I really think that we’re making some big strides and I think that I don’t want to look past anything, but I think next year the guys that we return, there is definitely a good chance that we’re going to be big time contenders.”
Question: How would you describe Mike Martin?
Ryan Van Bergen: “How would I describe Mike (Martin)….style of play, he’s just a different kind of person on the field. He’s aggressive to the point of I do not even want to get in his way. He’s relentless. He’ll come after you every play regardless of the down or distance and then personality.